Have you noticed a theme emerging? All month we’ve been featuring some of the talented women of Chicago we met this summer. Today we get to introduce you to Syreeta Garcia, Rita/Reeta for short. She describes herself as a fun-loving, nerdy, often misunderstood, free spirit who loves to dance. She works a variety of odd jobs by day, but spends a majority of her time spinning a mix of all vinyl DJ sets with the likes of Heart of Chicago Soul Club, to House of Vans, Psych Fest and more ranging from Psychedelic, and Garage, to International and Rare Soul music, but as you’ll learn it’s all about the groove for Syreeta.
When not working or behind the turntables, “I enjoy trying new hobbies but playing the vibraphone and tap dancing are my current faves. Music all around!”
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
The industry kind of just found me. It was all happenstance over a decade ago. I was on social media, chatting up 60’s Garage and Psych music legends, sharing obscure 60’s Psychedelic Rock music with fellow music lovers, and the reception for the songs I chose to share was quite positive. I was invited to spin for an online radio station based out of France called Radio Stryckhnine. I did several shows for the radio before someone in my city of Chicago heard one of my sets, befriended me and invited me to spin at a local bar ironically called Lokal.
I’d spin records at Lokal on a monthly basis. While there, I’d meet some really cool and interesting people who enjoyed the same music as I did. One of those people was Steven Krakow AKA Plastic Crimewave, who is pretty well known in the Chicago Psych Rock scene. We hit it off and instantly became friends. He liked my set and invited me to do his festival…Chicago PsychFest 4. I’ve done numerous, spectacular, spaced out events with Steven over the years with the latest being PsychFest 13, which featured Jazz wonder Jeff Parker and an ensemble of really talented artists on the bill. I was even given an opportunity to expand on my djing by playing music from my collection that was mind-altering and trippy but not necessarily traditional Psych and I absolutely loved it!
My latest venture has been spinning my Soul records in conjunction with my Psych tunes. After my Grandmother Florine passed away last year, I started playing some of her old records to remind me of her and our time together. Coincidentally; Earlier this year, I met Debbie-Benjamin Koller at one of Steven’s music events for Soul legend Renaldo Domino and she invited me to spin Soul music at her monthly residency at The Golden Dagger. Debbie is one of the sweetest and hippest people l know. She created a brand new Women led Soul music gathering called Heart of Chicago Soul Club and asked me to join along with fellow Soul sister Rockin Ricki Friedmann. We’ve been doing a host of events around the city.
What is a day in the life like?
A day in the life for me is work. I’m always working on something. Spreading joy via music and bonding with those I love and care about. Telling your significant other, family and friends that you love them. Life is so damn short!
In your opinion what has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
Hmmm, that’s really hard to say because I’ve worked on so many cool projects over the years that it’s truly difficult to decide. But if I had to choose, I’d say I really enjoyed The House of Vans show I did with Steven in 2021. It was incredible and stood out because it was one of the last events that I could share with my Grandmother before she passed away and with my son Mars, before he moved out of state.
I also got an exhilarating natural high from the first ever Heart of Chicago Soul Club event that Debbie created back in July of this year. It was so wonderful to see the crowd enjoying themselves and to see the joy on my fellow djs faces, as well as my cousin Corrietha but especially Debbie.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
The most difficult part of my job has been finding time to attend everything. Sometimes you have to turn down great opportunities for a multitude of reasons but when the timing is right, oh what a delight!
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
My advice to someone wanting to pursue music in any capacity is to stay humble. Reciprocate. Reciprocity goes a long way.
Go to those music events you’re invited to if you’re free. You never know what kind of awesome connections you’ll form. Show your support for one another. Be kind and keep an open mind. Stay sharp and stay grounded. Be realistic about your expectations. What is meant to be will be. Have fun!
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
You bet I am! I had a Fisher Price record player as a kid and I grew up with vinyl played in my home. I guess it was inevitable that I started collecting records as a teen and an adult. I’m an addict when it comes to music but I still live within my means and budget when it comes to adding to my record collection. A collector never stops collecting.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
I’m excited about the resurgence in popularity in vinyl collecting. I’m stoked to see long coveted vinyl records that were once unavailable due to never having a proper release, finally see the light of day! I’m also thrilled to see so many women in vinyl!
My only concerns are, I hope the records receive the proper mastering/remastering. Sometimes the audio is off a bit or there’s a missing channel etc. Lastly, because of the renewed vinyl popularity, I worry about the cost of tunes. I don’t want to get priced out of the vinyl market!
Who has been influential to you and your growth as a professional in this industry?
There have been several people who have been influential to my growth as a professional in this industry. My parents and grandmother (RIP to them all) who were all avid music lovers. I got my first taste of tunes through them. My favorite musicians and artists. Their music is what motivated me to keep playing. The friends and creative partners who took a chance on me. Their risk taking and bravery was very forward thinking and as a result, I’m much more confident in my ability to wow a crowd.
Anything else you’d like to add; if not tell us what you’re listening to:
I enjoy all types of heady music with a groove. My world is Psychedelic!